Silicon-based nanolasers and optical amplifiers made a major breakthrough

Nanoscale lasers and optical amplifiers are the core devices for future optoelectronic integration on the chip and are crucial to the future of information technology such as supercomputers and "on-chip data centers." If these nano-scale devices can be fabricated on silicon substrate, they will lead the revolutionary development of on-chip optical interconnection, which has become one of the focuses of international academia and technology industry in recent decades.

Professor Ning Cunzheng, an expert in the "Thousand Talents Program" Department of Electronics, Tsinghua University, has made long-term researches on semiconductor light-emitting physics, nanophotonics, and devices for extremely miniaturized fabrication and characterization. For the first time in the world, electro-injection nanometer lasers with sizes smaller than half wavelength It is the first time to realize the continuous mode operation of room temperature injection of metal-injected nanolasers and is a pioneering leader in the field of nanometer laser technology. Professor Ning Cunzheng's group has been devoted to the physics and applied research of micro-nano-optoelectronic material devices, continuously breaking the miniaturization limits of lasers and optical amplifiers, and exploring the future of optoelectronic integration and its application in future computer chips. For more than a decade, the research group has focused on the development of nano-lasers and new optical amplifiers with high optical gain. At the same time, they have made major breakthroughs in these two areas. On July 17, the two sub-journals of Nature magazine The latest experimental results were published in Nature Photonics and Nature Nanotechnology.

Room-temperature continuous-wave lasing from monolayer molybdenum ditelluride integrated with a silicon nanobeam cavity, the first report of two-dimensional material-based nanolasers operating at continuous mode at room temperature has been reported. This two-dimensional semiconductor material, which has only a single layer of molecular thickness, is highly regarded in many fields. Two-dimensional materials provide the thinnest optical gain material for the nano-laser with its unique exciton emission mechanism. Two years ago, scientists in the United States realized laser lasing at low temperature in the visible wavelength range, but the operation at room temperature has never been realized.

The group headed by Professor Ning Cunzheng, combined with the experience of nano-laser research carried out over the years, utilizes a single-layer molybdenum telluride layer with a thickness of only 0.7 nanometer as a gain material and a silicon nanoribbon with a width of only over 300 nanometers and a thickness of over 200 nanometers Cavity as a laser resonator. The research group found that in the above two-dimensional materials, the binding energies of electrons and holes are very high, forming a stable exciton state with high luminous efficiency. Silicon-based nano-arm cavity with ultra-high optical quality factor, and molybdenum telluride exciton emission wavelength within the silicon material almost no absorption. Therefore, the "strong-strong" combination of two-dimensional materials and silicon-based nano-arms is an important reason for raising the laser operating temperature to room temperature.

In this study, we need to fabricate nano-cantilever structures with precise dimensions and etch one-dimensional circular arrays of different sizes on the cantilever while precisely transferring the single-layer 2D material to the nano-cantilever structure, Nano-operation technology presents a huge challenge. Professor Ning Cunzheng led young teachers Li Yongzhuo and others to overcome a series of difficulties, and finally for the first time in the world to achieve the two-dimensional material nanolaser room temperature operation.

Nano-laser research for basic research and practical applications are of great significance. First, two-dimensional materials, as the thinnest optical gain material, have been shown to support laser operation at low temperatures, but doubts remain in the tech community whether this monolayer of molecular material is sufficient to support laser operation at room temperature. Room temperature operation is the premise of most practical applications of the laser, so the new laser room temperature operation in the history of semiconductor laser has an indicative significance. In addition, due to the extremely strong Coulomb interaction in 2D materials, electrons and holes are always present in the exciton state, and thus this laser is actually in line with a new exciton polariton of Bose-Einstein Cohesion is closely related, is one of the most active topics in the field of basic physics.

Assistant researcher Sun Hao et al. Published a long article in "Nature Photonics" magazine entitled "Giant optical gain in a single-crystal erbium chloride silicate nanowire" For the first time, it was reported that an optical net gain greater than 100 dB / cm was achieved in a single erbium-doped nanowire waveguide. This research result breaks through the limitation that the optical gain in traditional erbium-doped materials is only a few dB / cm, laying an important foundation for the realization of nano-scale high-gain optical amplifiers on silicon-based optoelectronic integrated chips.

Erbium-doped fiber amplifier is an indispensable key device in all-optical network and high-speed information transmission system. Its introduction is a revolutionary technological breakthrough in the field of optical fiber communications, making long-distance, high-speed and high-capacity optical fiber communication possible. However, in typical erbium-doped materials, the optical gain per centimeter is only a few dB due to the erbium ion concentration being too low. As a result, erbium-doped materials based lasers and amplifiers can not be used for system integration on future photonic chips because of their size.

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